1) It’s full color. Zondervan’s Archeological Study Bible is the father of the full color study Bibles (The old Rainbow Bible is no comparison). The real test will be in the transparency. As much as I love the Archeological Study Bible often times the color pictures show through and become very distracting. Color maps also appear on the same page as the text. The same is done in the ESV Study Bible. Very helpful and extremely attractive.
2) It’s not red letter. I’ll have customers jump for joy and others who will complain. My guess is they will have a selection of both. But while the text is black the verse numbers are blue and the chapter and paragraph headings are brown/tan (?). This includes the cross references and the numbers at the bottom of the page beside the notes. I suspect this will be across the board in all editions which is unfortunate because there will be some who don’t like the extra color in the text since having a little blue number in the middle of a sentence will be a distraction for reading.
3) Word Studies. There are blocked off segments which offer a closer look at a particular word. They provide the Greek pronunciation, the HCSB translation, the number of uses in that particular book and the number of uses in the NT. It then gives a paragraph or so on the meaning of the word.
4) Essays. I’m not sure how many there will be but the sample shows one by Robert Stein on the “Differences in the Gospels.” If this is an indicator of the quality of the other essays we will not be disappointed.
5) Notes. Here’s where the real test comes with any study Bible. Sixteen pages is not much to judge by but I liked what I saw. I won’t be surprised by a theological bias since every study Bible has some bias to it. For the record I don’t know of a study Bible that has “just the facts” with no “man’s opinion.” I have had customers ask me for it. One test for me is how much the notes overlap with other study Bibles. After a while they start to repeat each other but with varying expressions. To some extent this should be expected.
Here’s one note I found interesting on Matthew 3:1 which reads “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea.” To understand the note better you should know “Archelaus” is mentioned in 2:22 (“But when he [Joseph] heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea . . .”
The Bible is due out this October. As I get more information on it I’ll pass it along.
"In those days means “during the time of Jesus’ residence in Nazareth” rather than “during the reign of Archelaus.” After all, Archelaus reigned from 4 b.c. to a.d. 6, too early for John the Baptist to have begun his ministry since he would have been under age 12. In OT usage, “in those days” often referred to a time of prophetic fulfillment (Zph 1:15; Am 9:11; Zch 12:3-4; Is 10:20). Matthew probably used the phrase in conjunction with his references to fulfilled prophecy to emphasize that God’s promises were being fulfilled through Jesus and John the Baptist, herald and predecessor of Messiah. The location of John’s ministry (Wilderness of Judea) is reminiscent of the ministry of the prophet Elijah (1 Kg 17:3; 19:3-18; 2 Kg 2:1-12), whom many Jews believed would appear again to prepare the way for Messiah (Mt 17:10-13). Josephus described John’s ministry in a way that closely matches the gospel accounts (Ant. 18.114-119)."